DOHA: Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Doha veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova feature in the order of play on the first day's of the US $2.36 million prize-money Qatar Total Open women's hardcourt tennis championship that starts today at 3.30pm at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex here.
Denmark's 10th seeded Caroline Wozniacki will face 1.79 meters tall Bosnian Mervana Jugic-Salkic on centre court at 5.30pm. The Danish player is unlikely to face a stiff examination from 33-year-old Mervana whose has won 62.61 percent matches in her singles career. Her career statistics seem good, but the Bosnia Herzegovina native, who currently resides in Zagreb, Croatia, is yet to win a WTA singles title since she turned professional in 1999.
Wozniacki has age, record and form in her favour. She is 10 years younger to Mervana, has won an impressive 72.88% of her matches in her singles career which has 20 WTA titles. The Dane began well at the Australian open last month, but surprisingly lost to 51-ranked Kuznetsova in the pre-quarter-final.
Kuznetsova will be challenged by qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands of US on centre court at 8pm. The 27-year-old Russian who resides in Dubai, UAE, will be riding on good form as well as Doha fans' support as she has regularly featured in Qatar. Winning the doubles title here in 2004 with partner Elena Likhovtseva was some consolation for Kuznetsova after losing the singles' final to compatriot Anastasia Myskina.
The former world no 2, who has 13 WTA titles including one US Open (2004) and French Open (2009) in her career, is enjoying a good run this year, winning 63.3 percent of her points on her first serve. She lost to Australia Open winner Victoria Azarenka, who has got a bye in the first round here, in the quarter-final. Kuznetsova picked up 500 points and US $251,229 for her effort in Australia.
World number 13th ranked Serbian Ana Ivanovic will hope to sustain the form she rediscovered after a forgettable 2012, a year where her best grand slam effort was reaching the US Open quarter-final. The six-footer is unlikely to face major problems from Austria's Tamira Pazek, who also resides in Dubai, in her first round match starting at 7.30pm on centre court.
China's Jie Zheng and Australian Anastasia Rodionova will open the tournament in the first match of the day on centre court, starting at 3.30pm. Two other matches also starting at the same time will be contested by German Mona Barthel and Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, who represented Russia till May 2012, on court no. 1 while Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues will face Russian Daria Gavrilova on court no.2.
The world's top four Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska are the top four seeds and some interesting matches are on the draw.
Azarenka is fresh off defending her Australian Open title, and now she'll try to defend her Doha title. After a first round bye, the No.1-seeded Belarusian will open against either Tsvetana Pironkova or Romina Oprandi, with a projected third round encounter against a player who has given her a lot of trouble in the past, No.14 seed Dominika Cibulkova. No.6 seed Sara Errani looms in the quarterfinals.
Qatar Total Open singles title winner will earn US $426,000 prize-money and 900 points. The runner-up will get US $213,000 and 620 points. The semi-finalists will get US $106,435 and 395 points. Quarter-finalists will get US $49,040 and 225 points. Those who reach third round will get US $24,300 and 125 points; and second round players will get US $12,480 and 70 points while first round will get US $ 6,415 and one point.
Qatar has hosted the prestigious women's tennis tournament since 2001 which is now in its 13th year. The country has also the season-ending WTA Championships for three years from 2008 to 2010. (QNA)